Lucky’s One Year Anniversary Dinner & My Radio EP Release Party
A couple of weeks ago (oy, how was Christmas a couple of weeks ago?!), Lucky Restaurant celebrated their first anniversary with a five course paired meal. Along with the special dinner was a special show–the My Radio EP Release Party. Fact: several of the guys who co-own Lucky and manage it day-to-day are also bandmates in My Radio. Fact: both the food & the music is solidly good. Fact: I was pretty drunk by the end of the night, and, given the fact that it’s now a couple of weeks later (yes, a couple of weeks–can I repeat that enough?), I’ll try to recount the dinner as best as I can. Thank heavens I always carry a pen in my camera bag! (Oh, also, face: G & I never remember to take photos of ourselves–even when I’m wearing a fancy dress & heels. Gotta work on that.)
After we found our way to a table, we found a lovely glass of Coreto Tinto 2008 Table Red wine waiting for us and, quickly thereafter, a plate of snacks arrived (anyone else find the term “hors d’oeuvres” presumptuous too?). I found the gesture of a bottle of wine quite comforting–it really set the tone for the meal: sit down, settle in, get comfy, and enjoy the food & company. As for the snacks, who can resist a little boudin blanc wrapped in pastry, two tiny flavor-packed spicy Tuscan sausage slices, a chunk of funky & earthy gaperon cheese, and two Rappahannock oysters to throw back? The boudin blanc in pastry was smooth and rich, the Tuscan sausage (wherever it was from) packing heat and spices into one nibble (I could have used a few more of those slices…). As for the gaperon & oysters–can we say vaginal (and I mean that as quite a compliment)? Both were seductive–the oysters with their pure ocean-ness, the gaperon with it’s heady taste of cows and grass.
A champagne toast before the start of courses, and into the first: Marinated Smoked Eel with Radicchio & Frisee. I love me some saltwater eel, so I was delighted to try freshwater eel for the first time (especially after reading so much about it–and writing so much about it in my thesis–in Roger Deakin’s Waterlog). The eel itself had the texture of the fleshiest pieces of smoked trout that I sold through Big Pine, with a slight salty marinated tang to the side of the palate. A little underwhelming in the portion size as relative to the raddichio and frisee, but exciting to finally try. Most of my radicchio & frisee went untouched as I found the bitterness to be overwhelming–maybe a smaller taste of the vegetables to the eel would have tempered the bitterness and let the eel shine.
Second course came paired with Foggy Ridge Cider’s Stayman and was the as gushed about before French Chestnut Soup with Shaved Black Truffle. I loved it last year and I loved it again–rich, creamy, smooth, and utterly nutty with the great earthy truffle back notes. And this time they gave us a definite serving of the soup instead of NYE’s paltry lick. Nothing new about it, but a good ol’ favorite of mine.
Third course was my favorite: Duck Galantine with Foie Gras. It was, for me, the spotlight of what Jeff and the rest of the crew at Lucky do so well: take old school French comfort food and elevate it just enough that it feels exotic and hits the mark for fine dining–yet is still craveable for every day eating. Not that I’d eat foie gras every day. But I can crave fantastically cooked duck, yes? A Galantine, according to Wikipedia, is “a French dish of de-boned stuffed meat, most commonly poultry or fish, that is poached and served cold, coated with aspic.” Thus, Jeff’s duck gallantine was a deboned duck stuffed with foie gras, poached, served to slightly less than room temp. To be frank, I don’t know my aspic-ed food well enough to know if he did that bit (I would guess that he did, given his traditional bend), but, served with an intense reduction of something (oh gosh, remember now…red wine?), the duck was by far my favorite–rich and tender, juicy with that slight gamey duck taste, I’m craving it now. That course was also served with a Jack Rose which, while a favorite cocktail of mine, not my favorite pairing given the tartness of it. It didn’t clash, just didn’t elevate the galantine.
Course four brought a classic Italian winter comfort dish: Cotechino served with Bollito Misto and Lentils. Jeff’s sous chef Josh Labrecque brought to the night. Cotechino is an Italian sausage served as part of the Bollito Misto, or boiled dinner. Bollito Misto is a traditional Italian meal featuring meats and vegetables cooked in broth and served with a sauce or two. Our Bollito Misto featured the Cotechnio, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and the French or Beluga lentils (can’t remember now). A very tasty dish, but maybe a little too hearty for the evening–at $100 a head, I expected a tad more refinement than this. Not to downgrade the dish, but to say that it felt out of place for the progression of charcuterie to a salad to soup to duck gallantine. Everything was cooked beautifully and I’d definitely order it again some other cold winter night, but it fell a little flat for us.
Fifth course was dessert and, again, with Italian flair–Panettone & Turron, a nougat made of honey. Jeff apologized for the nougat, which is the liquidy part of the plate with hazelnuts in it–he hadn’t calculated the heat of the kitchen and his nougat melted before it could reach the guests. Never matter, it tasted of honey and hazelnuts and was quite delicious all on its own. The panettone was good as well, but, it not being a favorite of mine, I only tried a bite or two for posterity and then let G finish the rest. I would have liked to see more depth–something a little more dark and bitter (the cocoa dust on the plate definitely achieved that), but I found the plate too be a little too sweet and rich, needed something to cut it. Served with a small glass of Foggy Ridge Pippin Black, a dessert cider made of a blend of hard cider from Newtown Pippin and Arkansas Black apples and VA apple brandy, the course was solidly good if not the best dessert I’ve ever had. (And, remember, I’m hella picky with my desserts!)
After the meal, we traipsed next door to Kirk Avenue Music Hall for the My Radio EP Release show. All the guys sounded great and the turn-out was crazy–it was hard to find room near the stage and I definitely had to elbow my way up to get any shots of the band. (One day I’ll figure out how to take better band shots…) Everyone was dancing and singing along and the guys were having a lot of fun and it was great to actually hear the play for the first time after getting to know them at the restaurant over the past year. Roanoke couldn’t ask for a more talented group of individuals to call it home!
Over all, the dinner and show were a fantastic way to start the Holiday season and set the tone for the weeks to follow (those darn weeks that I really need to get posted up here before Spring hits!). I can’t believe how lucky (ha. Oh, that pun was not intended. Arg.) we are to have such a great restaurant in town guided by such a dedicated and talented head chef like Jeff Farmer. Between him and Josh, his Sous, Lucky’s in great culinary hands. And Hunter can always make me a drink. And etc., etc. (smile) To all the co-owners of Lucky, thanks for investing in Roanoke’s culinary future, I’m so grateful to have the restaurant here!
18 Kirk Avenue
Roanoke, VA, 24011